Sermon Notes & References

“Walk with Him in White”

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

January 14, 2018

1. Connections

    a. Purity and Christ’s Coming 1

    b. Purity as Spiritual Clothing

 

2. The Dress Suit of Personal Purity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4:1-8

    a. Introducing a Delicate Subject (vv 1-2)

    b. The Body: Keep It Chaste (vv 3-4) 2

    c. The Mind: Keep it Honourable (vv 5-6) 3

    d. The Will: Keep it Submissive (vv 7-8) 4

 

3. Overcoat of Love for Believers 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4:9-10

 

4. Shoes of Integrity before Unbelievers. . . . . . . . . . .4:11-12

 

5. Conclusion 6

1 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. . . . . . . . . . .  Walk with Him in White

 

1. Connections

    a. Purity and Christ’s Coming

        i.  there is a connection between purity and Christ’s first coming

            (1)    consider the ministry of John the Baptist

            (2)    prophetically and symbolically: “A voice is calling,’”Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.’” (Isaiah 40:3)

            (3)    he came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)

            (4)    and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.” (Matthew 3:6)

        ii. but also with respect to His parousia, His coming in splendour as King

            (1)    2 Corinthians 6:18 reminds us of promised relationship to our Father God, “‘And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty.”, then gives the natural result of that promise, our seeking to be pure: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)

            (2)    Hebrews expresses the same thought, connecting purity with Jesus’ return this way, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

            (3)    John expresses it very directly, “… We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2b-3)

            (4)    as also does Peter, “13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” (2 Peter 3:13-14)

            (5)    the connection of today’s passage on purity with the parousia is seen in the preceding verse: “so that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:13 NAS)

 

    b. Purity as Spiritual Clothing

        i.  there is another connection which we shall use in looking at these verses today: that between purity, an aspect of sanctification, and our “spiritual clothing” – hence our title, “Walk with Him in White” – words from Revelation 3:4 to the faithful in Sardis.

        ii. there is the well-known parable of Jesus of the man ejected from the wedding-feast because he was without the proper garment

        iii.     then Ephesians 4:22ff and Colossians 3:9ff use the terms “lay aside” and “put on” – words dealing with clothing – to tell us to take off the marks of our old sinful nature and dress in the graces of our new nature

        iv.     so we shall use those figures of speech in considering the verses before us this morning:

            (1)    The Dress Suit of Personal Purity, vv 1-8

            (2)    The Overcoat of Love for Believers, vv 9-10

            (3)    The Shoes of Integrity before Unbelievers, vv 11-12

 

2. The Dress Suit of Personal Purity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4:1–8

    a. Introducing a Delicate Subject (verses 1-2)                                                                                                    

        i.  Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

        ii. the virtue of purity, in particular sexual purity

            (1)    is a divine revelation of God’s moral will

                 (a)    found throughout the OT & specifically in the “Ten Words”

                 (b)    but usually and utterly absent from pagan religion & thought

            (2)    because it is delicate, dealing with intimacy, it is often something that pastors shy away from talking about

                 (a)    but, in a world that admires impure actions it needs addressing

                 (b)    consider the question, in the things you see each day

                     (i)     how many bring thoughts of Biblical truth?

                     (ii)    how many bring sexual thoughts?

                 (c)    so the Bible often deals with this matter as it does here

        iii.     there are some key phrases in this introduction

            (1)    First: “in the Lord Jesus” and “by the authority of the Lord Jesus

                 (a)    these are not Paul’s personal ideas from his Pharisaical training

                 (b)    but the words of the One

                     (i)     who was tempted in all points like us, yet without sin

                     (ii)    one who made us, knows intimately our physical nature

                 (c)    and therefore we are obliged to pay attention

            (2)    Second: “to please God

                 (a)    in itself, this is a pretty amazing thought, considering the filthy raggedness of our own attempts at righteousness

                 (b)    this is not a matter of our justification before God

                     (i)     Jesus handled that at the cross

                     (ii)    which we obtain by grace through faith

                 (c)    no, this is the matter of “sanctification”

                     (i)     our day to day being set apart to God from the world

                     (ii)    the Holy Spirit’s preparing God’s people for God’s presence

            (3)    Third: “commandments” – we are talking about

                 (a)    a non-optional facet of Christian living

                 (b)    absolutes, not the relative merits between sets of ethics

        iv.     let us look at this matter of purity in body, mind and will

            (1)    the Body: Keep It Chaste                                                                                                 verses 3–4

            (2)    the Mind: Keep It Honourable                                                                                           verses 5–6

            (3)    the Will: Keep It Submissive                                                                                             verses 7–8

 

    b. The Body: Keep It Chaste (verse 3-4)

        i.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour

        ii. note that this is primarily addressed to men

            (1)    in that time, as ever since, a double standard between genders

            (2)    Paul directly addresses those who did not see any problem with this behaviour because of their culture and environment

        iii.     our physical (and fallen) nature is one source of immorality

            (1)    God’s pronouncement in the Garden “It is not good for man should be alone, I will make an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18

            (2)    but we are not mere animals, but rather spiritual beings

            (3)    the Bible states that sexual relations are part of a mystical union between a woman and a man

                 (a)    this was intended to be part of the marriage relationship

                 (b)    for the Christian this union parallels union with Christ

                 (c)    outside of that relationship it is a demeaning union consisting only of gratification

                 (d)    1 Corinthians 6:15-20 explains why sexual misconduct differs from other sins because of its permanent effect within the persons engaged in it – but that is a complex subject

        iv.     possess his own vessel”

            (1)    this phrase has two interpretations (revealed by the paraphrase used in some translations)

                 (a)    mastery or control of one’s own physical body

                 (b)    restrict this relation to one’s own wife

            (2)    really immaterial which is correct ... the result is the same

                 (a)    holiness includes the physical aspects of life

                 (b)    sexual immorality shows a dishonouring attitude to ourselves, our spouse, and others; which brings us to ...

 

    c. The Mind: Keep It Honourable (verses 5-6) – our attitude

        i.  not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.

        ii. there is a close connection between lust and covetousness, between the seventh and tenth commandments

            (1)    both start with one’s thoughts

            (2)    both consider our desire more important

                 (a)    than the rights of ownership of others

                 (b)    than others’ feelings

                 (c)    than our own responsibilities

        iii.     Paul shows here how it distorts one’s thinking

            (1)    A husband and wife are talking.

The wife says, “Darling, why don't you play golf with Harry any more?”

Husband: “Would you play with a sneak who puts down the wrong score and moves his ball when you aren't looking?”

“Certainly not,” she answers.

Husband: “Well, neither will Harry.”

            (2)    the port of Thessalonica was a trade city and tradesmen know, in general, that honesty is an important part of doing business

                 (a)    this uses the business term “defraud” about sexual impurity: it transgresses the boundary into another’s property

                 (b)    a prominent businessman was severely criticized for dismissing an executive who had been unfaithful to his wife. His defence was sound, “This man has cheated his wife, and the husband of the woman with whom he had the affair; how can I trust him not to cheat this company and its customers?”

                 (c)    sexual immorality is basically dishonest and dishonourable

        iv.     The Lord will avenge this wrongdoing. In Genesis 20:6, God shows how seriously He takes the relationship of marriage between a man and a woman. Abraham had said Sarah was his sister to Abimelech, not revealing that she was his wife. As a result King Abimelech took her to be his wife, but God would not permit this man even to touch her (verse 4 says he had not even come near her.) So plague hit his household.

            (1)    some pastors have taken greeting with a holy kiss far too far

            (2)    Pastor McLeary of the days of my youth: “Make sure it’s holy!”

 

    d. The Will: Keep It Submissive (verses 7-8)

        i.  For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

        ii. firstly, as we see overall, choosing impurity is pitting one’s own will directly against that specifically revealed by God

        iii.     secondly, this ignores God’s purpose in His calling us to salvation

            (1)    For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

            (2)    who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:14)

        iv.     thirdly, this is a direct affront, a rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us from sin

        v. finally, one is resisting the purifying work of the Holy Spirit; and more, for it corrupts our body which is to be His temple.

 

3. Overcoat of Love for Believers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4:9-10

        i.  Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, – loving, room for more

        ii. in Colossians 3:10-13, as already mentioned, there are listed a number of virtues with which our lives should be clothed: “10 … put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11 … 12 … put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

        iii.     then sums it up in verse 14: And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV) – love is the overcoat that enables these virtues to be a pleasing witness to God

    b. Love does not behave unseemly, seeks not her own                                                           1 Corinthians 13:13

 

4. Shoes of Integrity before Unbelievers. . . . . . . . . . .4:11-12

        i.  and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

    b. That word ‘behave” is the same word walk (peripateo) as in 4:1 “step carefully around all the obstacles and mire in order to conduct yourselves blamelessly” – like last Monday stepping through slush in the parking lot

        i.  because God cares … because you are being watched

        ii. how you walk – your shoes – will testify to your Christianity; consider the four practical ways this verse gives how a Christians should live

 

5. Conclusion

    a. I cannot leave you with better closing remarks of encouragement in these matters than those which are found in John’s first epistle:

Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)


Footnotes

Endnotes

1

© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:

 

              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              IGNT              Interlinear Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, 1956; as well as other Greek Texts as W&H, Nestle, etc.

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              Philips     The New Testament in Modern Englis, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth


Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:


              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              CP   -      Decission, July & August 1962, Open Your Bible, by Dr Sherwiood E. Wirt

              EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

                             1, 2 Thessalonians: Robert L. Thomas

              EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

                             1 & II Thessalonians, by James Moffatt

              JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site, www.holwick.com.

              NCBC –    The New Century Bible Commentary – 1 and 2 Thessalonians – I. Howard Marshall – Wm B. Erdmans

              RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.